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Document 52018XC0504(02)

Publication of an application pursuant to Article 50(2)(a) of Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs

OJ C 157, 4.5.2018, p. 11–14 (BG, ES, CS, DA, DE, ET, EL, EN, FR, HR, IT, LV, LT, HU, MT, NL, PL, PT, RO, SK, SL, FI, SV)



Official Journal of the European Union

C 157/11

Publication of an application pursuant to Article 50(2)(a) of Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs

(2018/C 157/07)

This publication confers the right to oppose the application pursuant to Article 51 of Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council (1)



EU No: PDO-BE-02261 — 11.1.2017

PDO ( X ) PGI ( )

1.   Name

‘Vlees van het rood ras van West-Vlaanderen’

2.   Member State or Third Country


3.   Description of the agricultural product or foodstuff

3.1.   Type of product

Class 1.1. Fresh meat (and offal)

3.2.   Description of the product to which the name in (1) applies

The name ‘Vlees van het rood ras van West-Vlaanderen’ may be used only for fresh meat from females of the Belgian Red breed that are between three and a half and eight years old and from steers of the Belgian Red breed that are between two and three and a half years old.

The carcasses must meet the following specifications:

—   Weight: at least 380 kg.

—   Conformation: Classes S, E, U, R and O of the SEUROP classification for cattle.

—   Fat cover: 2, 3, 4 or 5.

The meat is fairly dark red, with light, fine marbling and a fine-grained texture.

The meat has a full, intense flavour, and the fine streaks of fat give it a touch of creaminess.

3.3.   Feed (for products of animal origin only) and raw materials (for processed products only)

75-100 % of the coarse fodder (grass and grassland products) given to the Belgian Red cows and steers is produced within the geographical area, chiefly on the holding itself. At certain times of their lives, the cattle are additionally given a small percentage of concentrated feed.

In the summer, the cattle graze in the fields as soon as, and for as long as, the weather permits. On average, this amounts to seven months between April and November.

In the winter, the fodder consists primarily of local grassland products: haylage and hay.

The grassland products are produced on the holding, but, if necessary, fodder produced locally, within the geographical area, can be bought in. Only in extreme weather conditions (drought or heavy rainfall) can a limited amount of fodder be bought in from neighbouring areas. Each year, the percentage of the fodder coming from outside the geographical area amounts to from 30 % to a maximum of 50 % of the dry matter fed to the animals, and this does not affect the specific characteristics of the meat.

In addition to grassland products, the cattle are given the following:

in the summer (and only if necessary): locally produced coarse fodder (such as maize, pulp, draff, potatoes, straw, etc.);

in the winter: coarse fodder and a maximum of 0,5 kg of concentrated feed per day per 100 kg live weight.

The additional coarse fodder referred to above is primarily produced on the holding, but can be bought in if necessary. 75-100 % comes from within the geographical area.

The fattening period lasts a maximum of five months. The fodder is supplemented with concentrated feed up to a maximum of 1 kg per day per 100 kg live weight. The concentrated feed contains cereals and is supplemented with, among other things, linseed cake, fodder beet, potatoes, etc. The animals can be fattened in stalls, either tethered or untethered, or on the pasture.

3.4.   Specific steps in production that must take place in the identified geographical area

Birth, rearing, fattening and slaughter must take place within the geographical area.

3.5.   Specific rules concerning slicing, grating, packaging, etc. of the product the registered name refers to

3.6.   Specific rules concerning labelling of the product the registered name refers to

The label must display the registered name ‘Vlees van het rood ras van West-Vlaanderen’.

4.   Concise definition of the geographical area

The geographical area comprises the Belgian province of West Flanders.

5.   Link with the geographical area

Specificity of the geographical area

West Flanders lends itself to traditional agriculture with mixed farms. The province is described as follows: ‘West Flanders is a low-lying area […]. It enjoys a very favourable maritime climate and consists mainly of very rich agricultural land: behind the line of dunes, the soil is a heavy polder soil; the southern half of the province consists of a fertile sandy loam, while sandy soil is confined to the Bruges-Torhout-Tielt triangle. Apart from in the sandy area, farmers in West Flanders have a whole range of land-management and crop-rotation possibilities open to them.’

Livestock farming has always occupied an important position in West Flanders, thanks to the proximity of the North Sea and the characteristic maritime climate. The maritime climate is strongly influenced by the warm Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean. This means that there are few really cold or really warm days in West Flanders. This, in combination with the fact that the area has the most hours of sunshine in Belgium, favours a rich growth of grass and grassland products, which are the most important food source for the Belgian Red cattle. The rich grass produces a tasty meat with a touch of creaminess.

Keepers of Belgian red cattle hand their know-how down from generation to generation: the animals are allowed to graze outside as long as the weather permits and are reared primarily on coarse fodder. Furthermore, they are slaughtered quite a bit later than beef cattle of other breeds. Cattle farmers in West Flanders run mixed agricultural holdings which are closely tied to the local traditions and have adapted to the geographical and climatic conditions. Alongside livestock farming, arable crops such as wheat, barley, sugar beet, potatoes and maize are also grown and are traditionally used as coarse fodder for the Belgian red cattle.

Specificity of the breed

Red cattle have been grazing in West Flanders and the northern part of French Flanders for hundreds of years. In around 1770, there was a homogeneous breeding centre for red cattle. They accounted for 95 % of the region’s total cattle population.

After Belgium gained independence in 1830, the different stockfarming approaches adopted by the French and Belgian authorities led to a divide in the breed. In France, priority was given to dairy cattle, which led to the development of the ‘rouge des Flandres’ or ‘casselloise’ breed. In West Flanders it remained a dual-purpose breed.

In 1906, a regional syndicate was set up to maintain a herd book for the whole of West Flanders. The breed was known in Dutch as the ‘rood Vlaams ras’ but was later renamed the ‘rood ras van West Vlaanderen’, a name which emphasises the defined breeding area, namely the Belgian province of West Flanders. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the province of West Flanders has deliberately chosen to have a single breed within its borders.

Until the 1970s, up to 80 % of all cattle in West Flanders were of the Belgian Red breed.

The breed was preserved because some West-Flemish farmers deliberately chose it for the specific qualities of the meat. In 1994, it was still the case that 99,6 % of all Belgian Red cattle were in West Flanders. More recent figures show that this figure is currently still over 95 %.

Specificity of the meat

The combination of the specific characteristics of the breed and the geographical characteristics of the province of West Flanders produces a distinctive meat.

Over the centuries, the Belgian Red breed has adapted to the area’s mild maritime climate and the fruits of the rich West Flanders soil. It is commonly said that Belgian Reds convert grass to meat like no other Belgian breed of cattle. The animals spend as long as possible on the pastures of West Flanders and, in the winter, they also receive a rich variety of locally grown coarse fodders.

‘Vlees van het rood ras van West-Vlaanderen’ differs from other Belgian beef by its full, robust meaty flavour. The meaty flavour is accompanied by a touch of creaminess resulting from the fine marbling. Furthermore, the meat is extremely tender without any loss of flavour. The meat owes its tenderness to its fine structure with a very fine grain. The meat has a beautiful dark red colour.

The specific characteristics of ‘Vlees van het rood ras van West-Vlaanderen’ are ensured by the breed, the local grass feed and the mature age of the cattle at slaughter.

Link between the geographical area and the specific characteristics of the product

The link between the Belgian Red breed and the province of West Flanders goes back centuries. The geographical area encompasses the extensive know-how of the local cattle breeders and the efficient keeping of the herd book just as much as the specific climatic and soil conditions.

The high proportion of local grassland products in the cattle’s diet has a positive influence on the flavour of the meat. The favourable maritime climate allows the grass to grow throughout the year, which makes for substantial muscle development and a succulent, finely grained meat. The quality of the meat is a specific characteristic, as the animals are able to range freely on the pastures from a young age and build up muscle mass. The cows have calved several times. Calving and suckling ensure that natural fats develop in the meat, and those fats give ‘Vlees van het rood ras van West-Vlaanderen’ its creamy flavour.

Given that the animals are older when they are slaughtered, they have been given ample time to grow and develop muscle mass on the basis of high-quality local feed. This means that the meat of these robust red cattle is tender and tasty.

Steers of the Belgian Red breed also develop their muscle mass. In conventional beef cattle farming, male animals are almost never given the chance to reach such an age. In conventional beef cattle farming, most male cattle are already slaughtered at around 20 months of age. Steers of the Belgian Red breed are not slaughtered until they are between two and three and a half years old. This allows the animals to build up considerable muscle mass and produces a tender, finely marbled final product. Another big difference with conventional farming practices is that the Belgian Red cattle are given free range as much as possible and are reared on grassland products and coarse fodder from West Flanders rather than on concentrated feed and maize.

The quality of ‘Vlees van het rood ras van West-Vlaanderen’ is reflected in the many references to it on menus, both old and more recent, and in gastronomic literature.

Today, ‘Vlees van het rood ras van West-Vlaanderen’ is held in very high esteem in top gastronomic circles in West Flanders and Belgium as a whole, and there is also demand for this quality product from abroad.

Reference to publication of the specification

(the second subparagraph of Article 6(1) of this Regulation)

(1)  OJ L 343, 14.12.2012, p. 1